Adding Life to an Old Barn…(part 1)

Our home is pretty unique. For most of its existence, it wasn’t a home at all. The original structure was a very large barn. Over the years, the stalls have housed everything from cows, to emu…llamas to ostriches. Several years ago, it even began to house humans. The idea to convert most of the barn to a house, with separate guest areas, was pure genius. There is something very surreal knowing that you are sleeping “down the hall” from your horse.

When we first moved in, it was obvious the barn area of the home had not been used for animals for quite some time. It was full of old stored things (some of which we refurbished and used) and old stall doors and walls that were falling apart.

As much work as remodeling the house was, the barn was equally in need of design and transformation. Houses I could do…but barns? This would be a first.

We spent a lot of time looking at different barn styles. There is a whole world of barn design out there! We knew we wanted it to be classy, elegant and rustic…but still totally functional for animals.

We started with the stall doors. The original doors contained windows covered in barbed wire. The wooden doors were old and rickety; some falling off the track, and some barely opening. We started by taking off the barbed wire. Next, Nick completely rebuilt the doors. He reused most of the wood to create arched windows with ledges. He fixed the track, so each door slides perfectly, and added new hardware and locks.

Early stages of our barn remodel.

Once we cleaned out the inside of each stall (many many bonfires later) we leveled each floor with sand, and put rubber mats on top. The sand was a lot of fun because we had to carry small quantities into each stall, one at a time. It was a “blast.”

The mountain of sand we shoveled into each stall.

Nick cut windows between the stalls, so our future farm family would be able to socialize with one another. At the time, I didn’t see this as important but I now realize how much the animals love it.

Nick built and installed new barn doors, and built stairs to the hayloft. Along with all the building, he also painted the entire barn. We went back and forth on color ideas, but finally settled on black and white. It seems to be our go-to color palette. Some may say boring. I see it as classic.

To take our rustic/elegant theme a step further, we used flame-like lighting in lantern wall sconces. The lights make you feel like you are in an old castle’s stables. They perfectly compliment the space’s design. We hope to eventually add an old candelabra chandelier in the center of the barn. The sky-high vaulted ceilings, full of perfectly crafted wood beams, add to the elegance.

A video we made right after we installed the lantern lights.

The barn, once finished, was completely perfect. For months, we would sit in the barn every night after dinner. It was everything we could have dreamed of…except, it was empty.


It was a cold rainy night in late October. Nick and I had been so hopeful of getting a call that one of the many horse adoption applications we submitted (By the way, horse adoption is quite a process. We not only filled out tons of paperwork, but we created portfolios and did interviews.) We didn’t get the call that day. Instead, a different phone call happened….

A few days earlier, I had been given the phone number of a man who had fresh, raw goat milk. To the crazy, hippy, health goof I am, this was like hitting the lottery!

I will never forget the day I called him, and told him that I’d like to pickup some goat milk. “I can do better than that,” he said. “You can have the babies.”

What! We were ready for horses, but goats? We do have a barn. We do have land. Hmmm…this could work. We went to get the milk and meet the babies. The cute little creatures won us over. We decided to take one at first, and see how it went. The mother goat had been favoring one baby and ignoring the other. We decided to take the outcasted little goat. We put her in the backseat of Nick’s truck and off we went.

Our first few days with her were an adventure. Up until now, we had only had dogs…so we treated our little goat just like a dog. This included walking her on a leash and even toying with the idea of bringing her in the main house (luckily, we did not). Her light tan coat, and spicey attitude earned her the name Ginger.

She was adapting well but we knew she needed a friend. Three days later, we decided to go back and get her sister. The day the two were reunited they jumped in the air and rammed their horns together. I thought they were killing each other, but later learned this is how goats play.

Our first girl was Ginger, so Cinnamon was the perfect name for our newest family member. Cinnamon is very different from Ginger. She is shy and sweet, and much calmer then Ginger. Both girls love to balance on objects and dance about. I think they were dancers in their past life, but Ginger definitely was the train wreck ex-showgirl.

Cinnamon

The goats provide hours of entertainment. They are always in some type of trouble, or in some way driving Nick nuts. They follow him everywhere…and he absolutely loves it. Most days he is working on a project and they are lounging near by, or riding in the back of his trailer. We joke that we are going to buy them a hot tub. They are total divas, but we couldn’t imagine life without them.

As much life as Gingie (as we call her) and Cinnamon added to the barn, something was missing. The reason we moved to Kentucky was for horses. We waited anxiously for the call…

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